A review of a review of Religilous

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A review of a review of Religilous

It's weird that I feel the need to respond to this review, since A) I generally dislike most things from Bill Maher, and B) While I found the movie hilarious, I thought it was mostly preaching to the choir. (Which was okay by me, since I sing in that same choir.)

But, since I haven't picked anything apart in a while, here we go:

 

Article under scrutiny: 

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/10/religion_maher_style.html

 

Quote:

Religion, Maher Style

By William Murchison
 

"Grow up or die," Bill Maher admonishes viewers at the end of "Religulous," which is kind of an odd statement for a guy to make on wrapping up a cinematic assault on religion: mocking, jesting, wise-guying to beat the band.

An odd statement for a person who, later in this very article, accuses Bill Maher (and I assume atheists in general) of ignoring importance nuances. Bill Maher is not asking you to grow up in the sense that he wants you to stop having fun at other peoples' expense. You can ridicule people to your heart's content, as far as Bill is concerned---just be sure that giving up your belief in Santa is also a part of your to-do list.

Quote:

But we've only just found out at this point where the movie was going all along. Past the staged crucifixion at Orlando, Fla.'s, Holy Land theme park; past the entrepreneurial rabbi with the technological rationales for getting past Sabbath restrictions; past the zingers at fundamentalists and end-timers and the momentary bemusements of well-meaning believers unsure what the guy could be getting at in his frontal assault on belief. Past all this, Brother Bill brushes on the way to affirming the destructive equivalence of all religions.

Remind me again where you're hiding that ear for nuance that Bill and other atheists apparently lack? He is not painting all religions with the same broad brush. He is specifically targeting widespread, god-fearing religions. He and other atheists could give a shit about Buddhism or Jainism, for example. It's possible to have a religion based on philosophy and not imaginary magical men. The latter are the ones under fire in this film.

Quote:

He's got the notion, from talking to Muslim spokesmen, and pointing to acts of Muslim terrorism, that attachment to the supernatural dimension of life leads to bigotry at best, war at worst. It's the modern style you know -- fire both barrels, take no prisoners, disclaim interest in nuances, laugh your opponent out of the room.

Well, first, there is no supernatural dimension of life, which was kind of the point. It would be more accurate to say that delusional belief in a supernatural god (with a list of laws and commands) can easily lead to bigotry and war. It doesn't necessarily, but it leaves a door wide open that really should be closed. Preferably forever.

Also, I borrow from Pat Condell when I say that, demanding respect for a belief and forbidding laughter at its expense is like telling someone not to laugh at your toupe. If the thing was worthy of reverence and a little less on the hilariously ridiculous side, then respect you would already have.

If you want more respect for your silly toupe, then go back to hanging around other people who wear silly toupes.

Quote:

Brother Bill seems to be one of these ex-Catholics

Brother Bill? See, this is a tiny peephole into the bigger picture this movie was trying to paint for you. Bill rejects your supernatural universe COMPLETELY. And yet you are linguistically forcing him to be a part of a supernatural universe where gods whose traditions involve referring to strangers as "brother" are real things. You think it's all warm and friendly, but really it's just patronizing. It's like if you told me you didn't believe in Santa, but then I continued, literally and with all seriousness and firmness of conviction, to remind you to be a good boy this christmas. I would mean it in a nice way, but you would be annoyed at being treated like a child.

Which I presume to say is probably how Bill Maher feels to be called "Brother Bill".

Quote:

-- he quit the church at 13 -- who never got over Sister Intractable ruler raps on his young knuckles. He has no faith in Faith, no belief in Belief.

Ah, the old "atheists are secretly mad at God/the angry nuns/their parents" routine.

Yeah, it might be that....

OR....

It might be that your belief system is batshit fucking insane, and to some, it is so patently obvious that it's worth mentioning. 

You see only a movie about ridicule toward Christians and Muslims. But really, this is a movie about FRUSTRATION with Christians and Muslims, which is only made lighter by ridicule.

If Bill would have removed the laughs and kept the same message, you just would have stereotyped him as one of those angry atheists. (You still would have come to the conclusion that it was because he was angry at the nuns.)

As for having no faith in faith and no belief in belief... uh... yeah. Exactly.

It's funny that you use the phrase "belief in belief", since atheist Dan Dennett would argue that almost no Christians believe in their religion. They merely believe in believing in their religion. I'll take this phrase as support of Dennett's assertion.

Quote:

As for those who actually do -- hmmpphf! Dr. Frances Collins, the Nobel laureate and Christian, gets only seconds to defend in scientific terms the truth of Christianity.

That's because Christianity can't be defended in scientific terms. Why bother?

Quote:

The head of the Vatican Observatory is there merely to affirm evolutionary theory (quoting Pope John Paul II), with no corresponding chance to suggest that God might, you know, be at the bottom and the top of the whole thing.

Oh, of course, says the Christian, whatever science proves to be true is true. Absolutely.

 

Oh, plus God did it, too.

 

Pfff. Pass.

Quote:

On and on with the Dutchman who runs a church -- I guess it's a church -- that affirms the beneficent effects of cannabis. Oooohhh, those bad Mormons run Maher and crew off when they try to film in front of the Salt Lake City temple. "Talking to a burning bush" -- it's "kind of cuckoo," man.

The former is definitely worth a laugh, even to people who love cannabis!

Of course the Mormons chased Maher out. Suppress skepticism. It's a key ingredient of religion.

Quote:
Yawn. The atheist/agnostic/unbeliever game has such long white whiskers that it's hard to get worked up when a new player -- howsoever gifted, like Maher, in the arts of entertainment -- reports and suits up. The Catholic philosopher, Michael Novak, in a fine new book ("No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Unbelievers&quotEye-wink calls atheism "a leap in the dark" and urges "prolonged, intelligent and respectful conversation" among humans who differ on the eternal questions.

He encourages intelligent and respectful conversation, and yet it's so patently obvious who he thinks has the right answer. Atheists are taking a leap in the dark. Theists have a god delusion.

My super-educated author has a bigger dick than your super-educated author, and so on.

Yawn, indeed.

Quote:

Not much chance of a conversation like that with Brother Bill, whose unshakeable grip on certainty protects him well enough from cavils, such as that virtually the whole world is religious in one way or another and so, in his own way is Brother Bill himself: religiously committed to the idea of religion as a nullity, a waste of everybody's valuable time.

Well if we're going to use such loose definitions of "religious", I guess we ARE all religious. But do you really want to call an atheist a devoutly religious man?

And what kind of rebuttal is this, anyway? It's like saying, "Okay, okay, we're crazy, but look! Bill Maher is crazy, too!"

Quote:

The irony here is that Brother Bill's absolutist mind-set reveals to him -- more or less accurately -- the absolutist, profoundly non-humorous, ambitions of extremist Muslims. His tone turns from bumptious to serious when these people come on camera. There is next to no kidding; perhaps, really, none at all. He hypothesizes that those who seek to kill their opponents have one style of interpreting the Koran when mosque doors are closed. For outsiders, he suggests, apologists for extremism spin the sacred texts prettily as instruments of peace. Whether he is exactly right about this or not, we need to hear such things said in order to ponder them.

Erm, I'm pretty sure he extends that assertion to Christianity as well. I understood the point to be that Muslims quietly know that their religion is violent, but won't admit it to others. Christians, likewise, know in their minds that the ideas in the bible are a little loopy, but wouldn't admit it to another. It is a secret dark knowledge that one must compartmentalize and then forget that one has compartmentalized it. Orwellian doublethink.

Quote:

You take away from "Religulous" the sense that, yes, religion is a combustible mass that bears watching. You take away also the sense that religious people are a bunch of yahoos and brain-dead louts who happen -- just imagine! -- to disagree with Bill Maher.

I agree that Bill Maher can come off as condescending jerk-off. It's part of the reason I don't care for him all that much, even though I agree with much of what he says.

His ego was actually more well-behaved in this movie than I expected, in some places more than others. But I think Maher was choosing when and where he dispensed his respect. For example, I was surprised at how respectful he was to the truckers at the truckstop church. One of the truckers was extremely offended, but Maher's tone was simply along the lines of, "look, I'm an outsider who genuinely finds all of this silly. Help me out here." What's wrong with that? He even bowed his head and let the truckers pray for him. He was a very respectful skeptic. The only way this scene was offensive is if you are the type who finds objections to Christianity in and of themselves offensive (like the trucker who left as soon as he smelled an atheist).

In other places, Maher was no so respectful, such as when he was talking to the amusement park actor playing Jesus, a man who actually PROMOTES the ideas through theatre at a Jesus-themed amusement park.  This is a different scenario than the humble believers at the truckstop church, and I think Maher adjusted the respect levels based on how much he thought each deserved. (Just as you, no doubt, would adjust your respect level when dealing with Bill Maher versus an atheist who had simply never heard of Christianity before.)

Whether or not you agree with his assessments, I don't think it's fair to say Bill Maher was being disrespectful across the board.

Quote:

On Brother Bill's invitation, we jeer, we sneer, we laugh, we gibe. Having done so, we -- well, I don't know. What do you do when what you believe is a big fat nothing?

Ah, the old "atheists believe in nothing" fallacy.

You know, because if you don't believe in god, you don't believe in anything at all and your life is petty, miserable, pointless, etc.

I'll let people who haven't let Jesus destroy their ability to reason figure out why the conclusion of this review is a crock of shit.

 

The movie wasn't the eye-opener it seemed to be selling itself as, and it was definitely preaching to the choir, but it was a hilarious movie, and I consider its release a great moment in atheist history. Even I feel like that statement might be a bit overblown, but a movie like this could not have seen a such a wide release in so many theatres just a decade or two ago. Whether or not the movie itself was good, I'm just glad that a movie with an atheistic agenda made it out there, and I was even happier to see the theatre full. It makes me feel like people are maybe starting to think about it more seriously, and for that I am sincerely glad.

{fixed minor format glitch aiia}

 

A place common to all will be maintained by none. A religion common to all is perhaps not much different.


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Great post.  I'm surprised

Great post.  I'm surprised it's been overlooked.  I'm sending it to the homepage.

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Rotten Tomatoes rating for

Rotten Tomatoes rating for Religulous as of this post: 66 %

Rotten Tomatoes rating for Expelled as of this post: 8%

 

Hm... now, which mark would I prefer to see on an essay I'd written...

Sticking out tongue

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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I've been a Bill Maher fan

I've been a Bill Maher fan for quite some time, but the title of this film makes my head explode every time I read it. 

Also, based on the sheer number of separate threads about this film, it seems to be your guys' Casablanca or Citizen Kane. 


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Yeah....cause it being new

Yeah....cause it being new and interesting has nothing to do with it.....

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Quote:Also, based on the

Quote:
Also, based on the sheer number of separate threads about this film, it seems to be your guys' Casablanca or Citizen Kane.

Premise: Atheists are making a big deal about Religulous.

Conclusion: ???

 

In other words, jmm, what's your point?  Could you please explain why it's important that atheists think this film is cool, and what conclusion we can logically derive from that fact?

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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jmm wrote:I've been a Bill

jmm wrote:

I've been a Bill Maher fan for quite some time, but the title of this film makes my head explode every time I read it. 

Also, based on the sheer number of separate threads about this film, it seems to be your guys' Casablanca or Citizen Kane. 

Citizen Kane is my Citizen Kane.  Casablanca's for girls.  

We're a bit excited, that's all.  Can you blame us?  The Brits got to see Root of All Evil? on national television (correct if I'm wrong--Channel 4 isn't satellite or cable, is it?) and we had to put up with watching it on YouTube.  We're a big audience and we finally being catered to.

"The whole conception of God is a conception derived from ancient Oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men."
--Bertrand Russell


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Yep, Channel 4 comes to us

Yep, Channel 4 comes to us sweetly free.  I thank human sense that the terrestrial channels still have the decency to show thought provoking programs at times Smiling

 

M

 

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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Quote:
Also, based on the sheer number of separate threads about this film, it seems to be your guys' Casablanca or Citizen Kane.

Premise: Atheists are making a big deal about Religulous.

Conclusion: ???

 

In other words, jmm, what's your point?  Could you please explain why it's important that atheists think this film is cool, and what conclusion we can logically derive from that fact?

 

...What?

Relax, man.  I was just humorously commenting on how many separate threads have been made about this movie in the past week or 2.  Or more particularly, how odd/funny it is that so many people feel the need to make a separate thread about it.  Not that it's a big deal, it just seems like it would make more sense to have one Religulous thread, and to post whatever you think about the film in that thread. 

Why do you have to turn every little off-hand comment into a stuffy, high-brow dispute?  Well, I guess I already know the answer to that:  you've convinced yourself that you're somehow on the front lines of a grand ideological war, and that if you don't shoot everything that every theist says down in flames then you're losing the battle. 

It's almost like it's inconceivable to you that a theist would simply want to joke around and shoot the shit with atheists from time to time.  Most of the time I'm just trying to be funny--not infiltrate the enlightened godless fort (there I go again with more inevitably misplaced humor). 


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jmm, I think most people

jmm, I think most people (like myself, for example) just get irritated at your tendency to jump-in and make a snide comment and then hop away. To be honest, I'm not sure Hamby was irritated at all - more than likely he was just curious (like he gets curious with the good Cap'n's behavior).

Quote:
Well, I guess I already know the answer to that:  you've convinced yourself that you're somehow on the front lines of a grand ideological war, and that if you don't shoot everything that every theist says down in flames then you're losing the battle.

...And then you say spurious things like this without actually having any argument to make for yourself (insisting on that free pass you clearly feel your religion should have).

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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jmm wrote:Relax, man.  I

jmm wrote:
Relax, man.  I was just humorously commenting on how many separate threads have been made about this movie in the past week or 2.  Or more particularly, how odd/funny it is that so many people feel the need to make a separate thread about it.  Not that it's a big deal, it just seems like it would make more sense to have one Religulous thread, and to post whatever you think about the film in that thread.

Hmm.  I don't find it particularly funny that atheists are excited about a film that clearly was made with atheists in mind.  What, exactly, do you find humorous about it?  Is it that there are so many threads?  That's an odd thing to find funny, at least to me.  If anything, maybe it's a little irritating to have to check five threads to get everyone's opinions, but not funny.  Maybe that's what you think is funny?  You imagined me or some other mod getting mildly irritated at lots of threads about the same subject? 

I dunno, you can obviously laugh at anything you want, but to be honest, I think I know why you find it funny.  Care to share with the group exactly why it's funny?  (I bet you'll tell us later in this thread, actually... let's see...)

jmm wrote:
Why do you have to turn every little off-hand comment into a stuffy, high-brow dispute?  Well, I guess I already know the answer to that:  you've convinced yourself that you're somehow on the front lines of a grand ideological war, and that if you don't shoot everything that every theist says down in flames then you're losing the battle.

Odd, I did a quick review of recent threads I've posted in, and as it turns out, I don't turn every little off-hand comment into a stuffy, high brow dispute.  As a matter of fact, my ratio of off-hand comments to full blown debates over the past week has been about five off-hand joking comments to every full blown serious conversation.  It's odd that you feel personally persecuted.   (Hmmm... was that one of the symptoms of delusional disorder?  Why, yes!  It was!  Special sense of significance based on the delusion.... and you believe I'm picking on you because you're a theist.... how interesting!)

No, jmm.  I singled out your comment because it didn't make any sense to me.  I was completely at a loss to figure out what you were trying to say, so I asked you what you were trying to say.  Since I don't find the number of threads even remotely funny, it didn't occur to me that you would think that.  There were no smiley faces, or any other indications that you were making a joke.  It just looked like a random comment with no point, so I wanted to know what your point was.

Quote:
It's almost like it's inconceivable to you that a theist would simply want to joke around and shoot the shit with atheists from time to time.  Most of the time I'm just trying to be funny--not infiltrate the enlightened godless fort (there I go again with more inevitably misplaced humor).

Actually, I find it funny that you have such a hard time being funny.  I wonder if there's a corrollary to Poe's Law in here somewhere.

Kevin Brown wrote:
jmm, I think most people (like myself, for example) just get irritated at your tendency to jump-in and make a snide comment and then hop away. To be honest, I'm not sure Hamby was irritated at all - more than likely he was just curious (like he gets curious with the good Cap'n's behavior).

How very interesting!  It seems that other people are able to read my posts as they are written without reading malice into them.  I'm a curious dude.  When something doesn't make sense to me, I ask questions.  You should try to work on lightening up a bit.  You take things way too personally sometimes.

Kevin Brown wrote:

Quote:
Well, I guess I already know the answer to that:  you've convinced yourself that you're somehow on the front lines of a grand ideological war, and that if you don't shoot everything that every theist says down in flames then you're losing the battle.

...And then you say spurious things like this without actually having any argument to make for yourself (insisting on that free pass you clearly feel your religion should have).

Indeed.  How interesting that a simple question is indicative of so much.  I've convinced myself that I'm on the front lines of a grand ideological war, eh?  So... you're saying there isn't an ideological war between theism and atheism?  Or, maybe you mean that I'm not on the front lines of the ideological war.  Would you care to let me know where the front lines are if they aren't in the land of free information exchange?

So, just for shits and giggles, would you care to browse back through some of my discussions with Eloise, Cpt_Pineapple, RhadtheGizmo, and other theists?  Notice that I don't shoot down everything they say?  Except for their theism, all of them are quite logical about a great many subjects.  When they say logical things, I agree with them, and (gasp!) sometimes even joke around.

I'm afraid, jmm, that you just say lots of things that need shooting down.  In fact, the only thing of yours I haven't shot down in recent memory was the post you got your knickers in a twist over.  I really was just baffled, and wanted to know what in the world you were talking about.

By the way...  I mentioned that you might tell us in this post why you thought it was funny... is it possible that you find it funny that we atheists have "convinced [ourselves] that we're on the front lines of a grand ideological war" and are getting excited about the movie because we're imagining ourselves as rallying behind General Maher?  Hmmm... I wonder if that's close to what you found funny... I wonder...  If that's what you found funny, I wonder why you thought atheists would share the humor...   I dunno.  Anyway, if that's not why it's funny, would you please tell me?  I'm still baffled as to what the joke is, and am having to guess.  Help me out, man.

 

 

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote:By the

Hambydammit wrote:

By the way...  I mentioned that you might tell us in this post why you thought it was funny... is it possible that you find it funny that we atheists have "convinced [ourselves] that we're on the front lines of a grand ideological war" and are getting excited about the movie because we're imagining ourselves as rallying behind General Maher?  Hmmm... I wonder if that's close to what you found funny... I wonder...  If that's what you found funny, I wonder why you thought atheists would share the humor...   I dunno.  Anyway, if that's not why it's funny, would you please tell me?  I'm still baffled as to what the joke is, and am having to guess.  Help me out, man. 

He meant "funny" as in, "this sucks."

 

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Sapient wrote:Hambydammit

Sapient wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

By the way...  I mentioned that you might tell us in this post why you thought it was funny... is it possible that you find it funny that we atheists have "convinced [ourselves] that we're on the front lines of a grand ideological war" and are getting excited about the movie because we're imagining ourselves as rallying behind General Maher?  Hmmm... I wonder if that's close to what you found funny... I wonder...  If that's what you found funny, I wonder why you thought atheists would share the humor...   I dunno.  Anyway, if that's not why it's funny, would you please tell me?  I'm still baffled as to what the joke is, and am having to guess.  Help me out, man. 

He meant "funny" as in, "this sucks."

 

Something like that.  Definitely not "ha ha" funny, just "odd" funny, like I said.  "Queer" in the non-gay sense, if you will.  "Questionable or suspicious", according to Merriam-Webster. 

And hamby, you're the Phil Spector of posting.  Not in the sense that you're an eccentric murderer, but by virtue of your wall-of-text posting onslaughts.  They're physically, emotionally, and intellectually insurmountable to me. 

I admit defeat, sir.  I am your subordinate in every conceivable sense. 


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Archeopteryx  , your OP

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jmm wrote:I admit defeat,

jmm wrote:

I admit defeat, sir.  I am your subordinate in every conceivable sense. 

 

Don't you love it when Hamby dominates you? I sure do.


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I just saw it. It was a

I just saw it. It was a movie that definitely could have been watched on basic cable with no appreciable difference in visual experience, especially considering how much footage looks like it was ripped from DVD (or YouTube!). Also, his approach was ham-handed and leading, and he resorted to the supposed Horus-Jesus parallels. However, it was cool to take an evening out with some Angelinos, and just laugh at the absurd shit virtually everyone around us subscribes to to some sad, despairing degree. We atheists don't get much excuse to hang out together.

 


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It was a good film, and had

It was a good film, and had lots of valid and interesting points.